With Mother’s Day just a few days away, many of us are turning our attention to how we will celebrate the mothers in our lives.
Sadly, for some of us, the day is also a painful reminder of what we have lost. Perhaps the mother who has passed on or the child whose life was tragically cut short.
As a mother myself, and one who is acquainted with the pain of miscarriage and secondary infertility, and more recently, the pain of losing my own mother, first to Alzheimer’s disease and then finally to Covid-19, I have had plenty of opportunity to reflect on what it means to be a mother, and also to be mother-ed.
What I have found is that I am no longer limited by what I will refer to as the traditional definition of what it means to be a mother, which is the woman who gives birth to us.
Now, to be clear, I am not saying that my own mother has been replaced or that the child I lost prematurely has been forgotten. Each has, without question, their own unique place in my heart.
What it does mean, however, is that my life is made all the richer by a few, what can only be described as divinely-orchestrated relationships with older women, who play a significant role in my life. Their love, acceptance and encouragement stir up faith and confidence in me and give me courage when I need it; most importantly, their listening ear and godly counsel points me towards the Truth, which is Christ.
Lisa Bevere refers to such women as “godmothers”. In her latest book, Godmothers: Why You Need One. How to Be One, Lisa not only encourages us as women to embrace the godmothers – older, wiser women — in our lives, those that we can turn to and learn from but also challenges us to be one to others.
Not limiting myself to the traditional definition of a mother also means that I have been able to fully embrace being the (adoptive) mother of a child who was not birthed from my own body but from my heart. Some days, I still have to pinch myself that I get to be “Mama” to this little bundle of energy — a born leader, who grabs life and all its opportunities with both hands. He and his older brother, my rainbow baby who was born following our miscarriage, complete our family.
For the women reading this, motherhood will, of course, look different for each of us, depending on our individual context. You may be a married mother, widowed mother, divorced mother, single mother, adoptive mother, step (bonus) mother or foster mother.
You may work in a school, in an orphanage, a school hostel or university residence, or even in a church as a children’s ministry worker. No matter where we find ourselves, we can be sure that there will be opportunities to “mother” someone younger than us, whether we have someone who calls us their mom, or not.